HAVE YOU BEEN BIT?

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic story that features zombies.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Adventure

HAVE YOU BEEN BIT?

Susan W. Hudson

“Have you been bit?” was a frequent conversation starter among the non-afflicted in Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead.” “If you stub your toe, get an infection and die, you turn into a zombie, unless your brain is damaged. If someone shoots you in the head and you die, you're dead. A zombie bite kills you because of infection, or blood loss, not because of the zombie virus,” concludes Kirkman.

I began studying zombies in 2016. I suspected that ghoulish things were going to happen in the next four years. Through my studies, I learned that the term, “zombie” is from a Haitian French word, zombi, and a Haitian Creole word, zonbi. They are “fictional” undead corporeal revenants created through the reanimation of a corpse.

Zombies indulge in very little conversation. When they do speak, it is garbled and nonsensical. Their main objective is to increase their numbers and remain “alive.”

Fortunately, I had a two-story house that provided lots of storage area. I knew that zombies only wanted fresh human flesh. So, I decided to protect mine. I knew that I could not board up my home against them. That would be futile. The zombies were strong and determined to have their way at anybody’s expense.

I learned that fire deters zombies. My neighbors helped me build two fire pits, one on either side of my back stairs. I bought all the quick-light charcoal briquettes I could find, in person and on the internet. I bought all the matches I could find and stored them in my attic. I collected up all the pieces of wood that I had abandoned at the back of my outdoor building. And, my neighbors provided more.

As a former furniture restorer, I had lots of cans of paint that would explode into a firebomb and a stash of denatured alcohol and other combustibles. I stocked up on gasoline and other flammables that might deter them.

I bought dozens of tiki torches. I had always been a “semi” hoarder. So my house was filled with paper. Many mementos from my children’s schoolwork were stashed away, along with wooden picture frames, furniture, and wooden shelves.

I had lots of clothes that had been meant for charitable donation, materials, and craft items that would fuel a fire.

I began to purge. I got rid of all the knives in the house except for the ones with wooden handles that would burn. Anything that wouldn’t burn was thrown away or stored in my attic.

I had several hundred books in my house. I knew they would burn well. I collected them all up in my living room, along with all the files and extra papers I had “saved.” In 2016, I had my fireplace refurbished, and I had my chimney swept. 

Zombies do not mind thunder, but rain slows them down. I planted lots of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables in my garden beside the fire pits. I used my umbrellas and converted them into a sprinkler system for when I went out to cultivate. The water fell down on me and staved off the zombies. I set up a motion-sensor sprinkler system just past the fire pits.

I owned one gun. It was a 4-10 shotgun I had inherited from my father. I had it cleaned and bought all the ammunition I could find. I bought a handgun and signed up for classes at a firing range. I had learned that the only way to kill a zombie was a direct shot to the brain. So, I trained to shoot for the head and nothing else.

I welcomed anybody who wanted to come and live at my house. They brought mattresses or fashioned a place to sleep out of materials I had on hand. My neighbors on both sides who had helped me prepare moved in. Including me and my son, we had six adults and three small children. The adults worked together and the children were entertaining. 

With the help of some friends, I had developed a trance detector. It was much like the fever detector that had been used during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was simply pointed at the head of everyone who came to live in my house. It would quickly detect a “trance.” That person would be expelled from my home.

Everyone who came to my home had to pass the trance test. They must bring firewood, canned food, cigarette lighters, grill lighters, firearms, and ammunition.  They must all agree to take the same training I had and learn to shoot for the brain

The only way to stop the undead is to kill them, which usually requires getting up close to the creatures. Unlike humans, zombies do not die of natural causes.

Zombies have only one weak spot: The brain. You must attack the brain. There is no other way to bring them down. Unscathed humans must load their weapons with the best ammunition they can find and fire as quickly and accurately as they can, directly towards the brain of the zombie.

My house was old and wooden. I knew that if worse came to worst, I would rather be cremated inside my home than eaten by a zombie.

I bought a back-up generator in case the marauders knew how to subvert our electricity. I installed rain-capture drums outside to ensure that we had water. I brought many candles and kept them lit in every room.

I bought all the flashlights and batteries I could find. I bought an extra pair of glasses, a new computer, and a new cellular phone. I also bought a CB radio and learned how to use it.

I turned one room into a small indoor raised garden and planted lettuce, spinach, radishes, and other vegetables. I already owned many gardening and regular tools. I bought an ax so I could chop up furniture and cabinets if necessary.

“Overkill,” you might say. But the first time I saw them coming, I set these defenses into motion. It all worked perfectly and they lumbered away. 

I regrouped. We held a house meeting to recap our rules and plans. We made sure everything we needed was available and easily accessible. 

We had one more visit from the walking dead in late 2020. There were more this time - four or five. We all pitched in, even the children. Everything went smoothly as planned and the invaders left after trying their best to get through to us.

The new year, 2021, brought many changes. Scientists discovered a zombie vaccine  and made it widely available. This cut down drastically on the number of people eaten or bitten daily. 

The Zombie Apocalypse was soon resolved. My neighbors returned home; I slowly returned to a “normal” life. I never heard the question, “Have you been bit?” again.

September 25, 2020 19:30

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3 comments

Emily :3
19:30 Oct 01, 2020

I loved this story! Usually I don’t like stories with zombies (let’s say that sci-fi is not my cup of tea) but this one, I really liked it!

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Sam W
03:16 Oct 01, 2020

This reads like a witness account-I loved it, Susan. The MC’s take-charge attitude and the absolute absence if desperation made for a strangely hopeful read. I would have liked a justification for all the MC’s skills and ideas-if only that she reads or camps a lot.

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Susan Hudson
00:17 Oct 02, 2020

Thank you. It was mostly reading and life experience. My ex husband I did camp - long ago. That might have kicked in, but I didn't realize it. This was fun to write.

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